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Statue of Eros Returned to Piccadilly Circus

March 24, 1986

LONDON (AP) _ Crowds cheered and champagne flowed Monday in Piccadilly Circus as London welcomed the return of a landmark, the newly restored statue of Eros.

Workmen suspended by cranes struggled against strong, gusting winds, finally removing the white cloth wrapping covering the 93-year-old statue.

Ken Livingstone, leader of the left-wing Greater London Council, which financed the $300,000 restoration, then turned on fountains at the base of the 400-pound statue.

A town crier and music hall singers dressed in 1890s costumes joined in the welcome for the statue, which stands in a new $14.8 million pedestrian shopping piazza 40 feet from the site it has occupied since 1893.

″We came 4,000 miles for this. We wanted to be a part of the history of London,″ said Maureen Varnedoe of Atlanta, Ga., who scheduled a trip to London with her husband, Louis, for the statue’s unveiling.

Although popularly known as Eros, the statue is officially called the Angel of Christian Charity. It is a memorial to the social reformer, the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, by sculptor Sir Alfred Gilbert.

Eros was taken from its perch in August 1984 for a general facelift and to repair damage caused by New Year’s revelers.

Its return was timed to coincide with the final days of the Greater London Council, or GLC, London’s municipal government, which will cease to exist March 31 after a three-year struggle with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government.

Mrs. Thatcher has argued the council is unnecessary and expensive and has handed its responsibilities to the city’s 32 borough councils and several new appointed bodies.

″We’re very happy to see it back. It is a landmark we’ve missed,″ said Derek Rushworth of north London, who was in the crowd of several hundred watching the unveiling. ″But we are also sorry to see the end of the GLC. We shall all be lot worse off without it,″

In his speech, Livingstone said: ″It has taken 18 months to restore the damage to Eros. I hope it won’t take longer than 18 months to restore the GLC so it can carry on the work of social reform here in London.″

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